Have you ever seen an 18 year-old kid being truly happy? One who still goes to high school hell in a blown-out industrial town and already knows how shitty real life is? And not just smiling and having second thoughts on suicide but glowing like he just figured it out? Not what people will find out later but what they lose at the very beginning. Then next to him seeing some older and more fucked up men with the usual halo, forgetting everyday mess of underpaid jobs, warehouse cold and drug addict misfortunes. It’s the feeling that you can turn whichever direction you want and you will see people you just love to have around, even if you are traveling in a dirty train car without heat, through a freezing snow storm drinking warming up beer and losing all possible ability to think straight; just smiling like a lunatic from happiness, exhaustion and being tipsy. It’s not only about eating free pizza, drinking beer against a hangover, listening to Dinosaur Jr. and cracking jokes on a day after a sick punk rock show a hundred miles away from the place you usually sleep—it’s about finding yourself in this rat life most of us want to maintain.
I grew up in parking lots around a shithole town, a capital of awakening post-cold war disaster. Smashing shit and my body as well. Dealing with drunk security guards and listening to stories told by homeless people. Hanging out on the streets, eating shit when hitting the concrete—skateboarding. Trying to do it while I sucked. But I loved the constant rush of doing something. Whenever I held the board and threw it in front of me, I was always among my friends and within the streets. I was no street kid. I just loved the vibes of constantly being out there. Spending my time among interesting people with different backgrounds. Somehow this was being creative about how to form an alternative world that’s just ours and not fucking lame just like others.
I had a bed but I always found it way more appealing for myself to sleep on floors, around friends and half-eaten sandwiches and smashed beer cans. Started getting wasted around 14 and had these weird smoking parties when a couple of us just got high and we danced to dance punk hits, then i had paranoia my friend’s dog will eat my face if I fall asleep. Looked shit, talked shit, thought shit, felt shit. Then became a punk, and a music geek. Found a band full with people whose previous bands raised me and parking lots were replaced by moldy rehearsal rooms under the ground of abandoned industrial sites. Shows, being drunk, travelling, sleeping under the stars, in stinky cars, in squats, drugs, puking, not eating. All this shit. Having shitty jobs. Hating bosses, falling for girls and not getting love. Sweating on stages, struggling at home writing new stuff, freezing in rehearsal rooms while practicing and working out songs. Having no idea what to do with life. Sleepless nights and blackouts. Cooking for bands, putting as many upside down crosses on flyers as possible, hanging with weirdos. Meeting fucked up people and falling in love with them. Up-all-night-ing. Eating junk food and watching fist fights while waiting for night buses.
All guts no glory. Lucid living. This is life.
This is life for me cause after all that’s what I have chosen. I’ve never been forced. I’m a fucking socially retarded person but, at the same time I feel like this is the way for me to be, and not because some jocks never accepted me. I haven’t even ever really met them—I was too busy dealing with my own punk shit. I started doing my things ‘cause I always wanted to do music and writing.
I remember one specific summer. When I did nothing but I was working on what is still my masterpiece. It’s a sixty-page zine I wrote mostly drunk from booze and enthusiasm, high on either music high or caffeine. What I like, what I feel about songs what kind of images my brain gathers by the help of these tunes. At the time I was reading then James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist and got obsessed with how he described hell through thirty fanatic pages. I wanted this, but with music. But I was living my own boring hell—I wanted to reproduce such perfection, not repeat it.
I was writing this zine like a maniac. All I was doing and thinking on was this zine. I slept 5 hours everyday I woke up early morning, opened the file on my computer and stared all day long on it. I did nothing else. Except sometimes I went out walking and blasted a beautiful song. And I just felt like my life right now is a huge piece of shit. But if a song like this could exist in this mess then life couldn’t be that cruel after all. And I wanted was to be in that song. I wanted to put those feelings on paper. I wanted this constant feeling I always missed. To let it overtake my life and live among these harmonies. Have the strength of such beautiful material made by a human being. I wanted this song to be my life. I wanted my life like this: fragile but beautiful.
Seeing a high school student smile, you can hear him state he just wants this. Going to shows with his friends, eating pizza, drinking beer, sleeping on people’s floor having fun. And realizing he is right and this is what all of us should do. Because this kind of life is the fulfilled beauty of that song. And what I wanted then I finally have that now. It’s not much but for some of us it’s everything. And we should deserve this. We should be able to have some incognito jobs, slack around for a little money and more free time to be fully alive with the adventures of surviving life as a punk.
The only thing better with skateboarding vs. punk is it’s instant satisfaction. You just roll and you are doing it. While with punk you have to find a band, then a rehearsal room, figure out songs, practice them, record them, release them, book shows, go to shows. It’s slow and it’s not happening all the time. Or it wasn’t till now, ‘cause in this rat life of punk that I’ve found I’m able to find myself: being up at night, thinking on booking bands, planning and writing collaboration zines. Brainstorming on starting new bands, lyrics for old ones, and how to start a zine publishing collective. Helping each other or just rotting at bars talking shit. Talking about punk, how cool it is or what’s so fucking lame about it. Jamming at the rehearsal room on a drunk and sweaty summer night. Seeing my friend amazingly drunk walking on his knees to Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and barking, while an 8 year-old is playing drums. The night before that having a six hour-long train ride and speaking through the whole trip, smoking weed, blasting ideas from 4 to 10 am. Skinny dipping in a fake lake at middle of a small town few hours before that. Just being with amazing people. Making Molotov cocktails in a forest and shooting Manowar fan-video clips with a flaming toy sword. Midnight record listening sessions through headphones.
Blasting girls’ anger on the fucking world—Nog Watt and Tozibabe followed by Silla Electrica. Wanting to xerox some inspiring zines and burn a dvd with Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains to a girl gang so they can rise up and tell us guys to fuck off. Cuz I hate ‘girlfriends’ and ‘[someone]’s girlfriend, the status. Girls who are reduced—or reduce themselves—to being accessories for assholes. The dominance these jerk boyfriends are putting on them. I adore girls who are putting on Wipers songs on New Years Eve and making us swear to dance. But how could we resist such offers? And I adore her not because I like the Wipers so she is like us dudes who do, but because she wanted to dance to this song with all of her heart.
I love midnight rides for beer with skateboards or bikes. Except when I smash my face into the concrete. Never ride your decks stoned, drunk and heart broken. I love telling cops they can write me fucking checks for walking on a snow covered road, wrestling with my friend but they have no power over me. I love punk flats and their communal living—when one doesn’t ‘take advantage’ of each other’s kindness but they are sharing their kindness as well. Taking each other to hospitals. Hugging out nervous breakdowns. Playing our hearts out for a handful of people drunk. Not really shredding the right chords all the time but feeling like there is nothing else I would rather do, there’s no other people I would rather do it with, and there is no other people I would rather have around. Even if it’s for a few hours, it’s true then and I won’t forget it. Inspiring each other, the stories and everything. Falling asleep on each other’s body parts. Almost crying or crying for real. Late night phone calls. Drinking after 12 hours of work—or drinking for 12 hours before work. Just bonding. And not just being only fucking associates in punk—something more. Like actually talking about what brought you to this music in the first place—and what keeps bringing you back to it constantly.
But then there’s also all the fucked up shit beyond this. Of how this is a struggle. A struggle to be able to have all this. But fuck the whole boring world. It’s a political piece you are reading now cause it’s always political when it’s about us and them. For me punk is not really a direct resistance. It’s more about a completely different universe I picked to live in and being constantly surprised how thousands of other people are on the same page with me. Reading for the first time the lyrics of Comet Gain’s “Why I Try to Look So Bad” and just not being fully able to fully believe that someone put on paper exactly how I look on the world.
Are you afraid as well? Me too. I don’t wanna give in. I wanna fake that I’m trying and secretly be happy with an ordinary job that lets me buy some records and concert tickets next to my bread.
But the difference between punk and being boring, or so-called life and this punk life is that what we have is easy to achieve but hard to maintain. With punk the “top of your career” is the reality that you can stay young forever.
There were several weeks in my life when I was just out there. My daily routine was focused around punk vibes. I just simply lost contact with the life all of us should do to survive. But what kind of surviving is it when you live for nothing? During those days I lived like nothing but for real somethings. Barely ate, drank way too much, slept under the stars, in bus stops, on cold floors. But there were always those 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes what mattered and made me forget what just happened before and what will after. We live for those 20 minutes and we live for real in those 20 minutes. It’s not only about music. Songs, sets, tours, being a fan. It’s about finding the true gold even in the rat life of punk. And that gold is…